In this bright, affirmative lesbian teen rom-com, a girl awkwardly angles for the attention of her high school crush with a little help from the ghost of her aunt, a queer activist with a poignant history in the fight for LGBTQI+ rights.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2020
This film is screening in select cinemas and venues across the country. See here for details.
It’s hard enough being a high school student, but Ellie (Sophie Hankshaw) also has to stress about how to ask her crush Abbie (Zoe Terakes) to the formal without the certainty Abbie is into girls. If that’s not complicated enough, how about blurting out your plan and inadvertently coming out to your high-strung mum (Martha Dusseldorp), who did not seem to take the news very well? On top of that, Ellie gets a surprise visit from her dead aunt Tara (Julia Billington), in the form of a fairy godmother ghost, to help her coming out process! Along the way, Ellie discovers some family secrets that she might not be ready for.
Ellie & Abbie may have all the hallmarks of a classic high school rom-com, but first-time director Monica Zanetti also manages to subvert the genre and bring some genuine surprises to the table, including salient reminders of historical LGBTQI+ struggles that came before. The charming young leads are supported by a great cast, including New Zealand’s own Rachel House, who gives a deeply moving performance as Ellie’s surrogate aunt. Winner of the Audience Award at the Mardi Gras Film Festival, Ellie & Abbie combines romance, comedy and a nod to pride history in an impressive debut. — Vicci Ho
About the Filmmaker
Monica Zanetti is an award-winning Australian screenwriter and director. Skin Deep (2015), for which she wrote the screenplay, was honoured at Austin Film Festival with an award for Best Narrative Feature. Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt) is her debut feature as a director.